Last season, the San Francisco 49ers came so close to reaching the Super Bowl to play the New England Patriots, but they fell just short. A year later they may be finding out exactly what it would have felt like to reach the Super Bowl and play the Patriots as Jim Harbaugh and company have gone into the Georgia Dome and knocked off the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game.
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It will without a doubt go down in not only one of the best NFC Championship games to ever have been played, but it is going to be etched into Niners lore as one of the most impressive playoff wins in franchise history. Lead by Colin Kaepernick, a second year starter who has taken the NFL by storm (like so many 49ers quarterbacks before him), the Niners came back from a 17-0 deficit to beat the Falcons.
While the occasion is glorious for the 49ers, Falcons fans are left with holes where their hearts used to be. The theme for the Falcons in the postseason over the last three years has been Atlanta choking themselves out. That trend continued on Sunday when Matt Ryan and crew disappeared in the second half of the game and the defense allowed the Niners to surge back.
Julio Jones started things off with so much promise, as he caught two touchdowns and over 120 yards in the first two quarters of the game. But the happiness was short lived, as the Falcons defense quickly began to crumble under it’s own weight and couldn’t hold onto the lead the offense had gotten them.
In the second half, Ryan began making mistakes, the defense further crumbled and the Niners took full advantage. After taking a 28-24 lead late in the fourth, the Niners defense held up against a heroic drive by Matt Ryan that featured a few questionable calls. The first was a Harry Douglas catch that seemed to have hit the turf, but was ruled a completion.
The second call came on 4th and 4, with the Falcons inside the 49ers 15 yard line and their season on the line. Ryan threw the ball to Roddy White who may or may not have been prematurely shoved. Pass interference wasn’t called and about a minute later they were partying in the street of San Francisco.
Before Sunday, the biggest comeback win in NFC Championship history was back in 1998 when the Atlanta Falcons came from 13 points behind to beat he Minnesota Vikings — on the road and in a dome.
That record now belongs to the 49ers, as does the NFC crown. Their story is beyond incredible and personifies what football is made of. They missed the Super Bowl the season before, switched quarterbacks while possessing a winning record in the middle of the season and were lead to the promised land by a young, second year quarterback.
San Francisco’s football history is full of these kinds of epic legends, and on Sunday we saw the latest installment in what has been a long line of amazing stories. But this one isn’t over yet, as the 49ers still have one more game to go on this amazing journey they’ve found themselves on.